The History of Cherry Tree CC
The club came into existence in the early years of the century and has played on the present Preston Old Road site since 1904. Initially it played in the North East Lancashire League, its second XI playing in the Chorley and District league. In 1919, with Read not having a ground available and Padiham and Great Harwood having disbanded, Cherry Tree were invited make up the numbers whilst the league found its feet. There were few professionals in that first season after a four year lay off and residential qualifications were temporarily waived. It was not a successful season, Cherry Tree finishing bottom of the table, but three teams were beaten Clitheroe, Whalley and Blackburn Railway Clerks. F. Hindle was top batsman and W. Wheatcroft took 8 for 31 in the defeat of Whalley. And the Blackburn Times reported favorably on Cherry Tree’s entertaining cricket, “So far Cherry Tree had not been well supported and, in view of the fact that the cricket is of a most interesting character this is a matter that should be remedied without delay.”
The Ribblesdale Junior League was joined in 1923, the 2nd XI moving into the North East Lancashire League. Success came immediately with the championship won in 1923 and again in 1925, 1926 (jointly with Read), 1931, 1934, 1935 and 1939.
Outstanding bowlers were C. Whittle who had 96 wickets at 6.2 in 1924 and A. Whittle who had 95 wickets at 4.49 in 1929.
With the disruption of the Second World War, Cherry Tree were again invited to play in the Senior League for four seasons, 1941 44. But the higher standard and the gradual loss of players to the war made life difficult. The team was always in the bottom three in the table with only five wins in the four year period and a tie against Read in 1943. Local rivals Blackburn St. James were the only victims in 1941, Clitheroe and Read were beaten in 1942, Read again in 1943 and Great Harwood in 1944. The club had to withdraw from the league in 1945, unable to raise a side.
Back in the Junior League for the 1946 season, it was to be 1960 before the title they had won so regularly before the war came back to Cherry Tree. Jim Fowler twice carried his bat for not out centuries in 1962. The championship was won again in 1963 and when the Junior League was divided into two divisions Cherry Tree were always high in Division 1, though relegation to Division 2 was only just avoided in 1969.
1970 saw the most crucial development in the club’s history when Cherry Tree took the place of Rolls Royce in the Senior League, this time for good. Great Harwood were the only victims in a difficult first season. Kevin Flatley from Rishton was the first professional and stayed for four years as the team adapted to Senior League standards, He stayed on as a amateur when John Townsend from Todmorden came as professional in 1974.
It was soon realised that the club would have to encourage and develop its youngsters. An Under 18 XI was formed and entered in the Ribblesdale Youth League, followed by U 13 and U 15 teams. In 1976 the junior section enjoyed its first success when the U13 team won the Lancashire U13 competition at Old Trafford. This was soon followed by success at county level for the U 15’s. 1976 also saw a championship win in the Youth League which was repeated in 1978. The youth policy was to provide the backbone of the club’s success at senior level over the next few years.
A 3rd XI was also formed at this time, which played on Sundays in the North East Lancashire League. When the Ribblesdale League formed a 3rd Division in 1977, Cherry Tree were founder (members and the champions for the first two seasons. The 3rd team gave younger players opportunity to be blooded in senior cricket alongside experienced senior players.
1977 was a remarkable year for the club. The 1st XI with David Bonner as professional were league runners up. The 2nd X1 won Division 2 and the 3rd XI were Division 3 champions. The Youth Team were runners up in the Youth Team and the U15 team were Lancashire champions.
The club had arrived. The promotion to Division I was an important step for the 2nd providing a better standard of cricket wicket would narrow the gap between first and second eleven cricket. The Division 1 championship finally won in 1988, the Lawrenson Cup having been won in 1986.
The 1980’s saw the seeds planted in the youth teams of the 1970’s come to fruition.
The Ramsbottom Cup Final was reached three times in 1983, 1987 and 1988 but each was lost.
The championship was won in 1987 and in 1989 Kevin Hayes as professional and in the latter case with his brother David as captain. Both been members of the U 13 side which won at Trafford. Kevin had gone on to captain at Oxford University and play for Lancashire before returning as club professional. David captained Lancashire at U16 level to the winning of National inter county U16 competition. Other club members to gain county honours from youth teams of the 1970’s were Craig Smith and Paul Cocker. In recent years Jon Hughes and Roger Davies represented the county.
The club went into the 1990’s by reaching fourth Ramsbottom Cup Final but unfortunately a fourth defeat. The club qualified for the Lancashire Cup in 1991, going out at the last sixteen stage and qualified again for the 1992 season.